Daring under 30s plunge into murky political world
When she stepped out of an aspirants’ meeting at the Deputy President William Ruto’s residence in Karen last year for a photo, no one took her seriously.
In fact, as others tried hard to have the signature pose with the DP as is common with aspirants, Linet Chepkorir, 24, was in a rush to leave.
For Chepkorir alias Toto, who hails from Chemomul in Bomet East, she was content with just being there. She did not need other endorsements to prove she had managed to go to the DP’s residence.
However, someone took a picture of her in a simple outfit and indicated she was vying for Bomet Woman Representative seat.
The photo soon went viral as social media users made fun of her dress code, some saying she was too young and poor to face the political bigwigs.
That single photo has since become a blessing in disguise. Youths in Bomet have picked it up and are promoting her candidature. She is indisputably among the growing list of candidates, who are below 30 years, seeking elective seats in the August 9 General Election.
Leadership skills A degree holder in Procurement from Chuka University, she says her interest is passion-driven. In an interview with People Daily, she said she has leadership skills having served in various positions while in school.
“I have had leadership experience as a class prefect in primary, head girl in high school and later a hostel captain in university. These are some of the privileges that inspired me to run for this seat,” she said.
Her greatest challenge, however, is finances. However, she is grateful that she has been getting immense support from friends and well-wishers.
Joan Cherotich, 26, who is eyeing the Bomet East MP seat on UDA, echoed her sentiments. The nascent lawyer and graduate of the University of Nairobi said although she did not have the financial muscle to put up a huge campaign just like her competitors.
She believes she could change the culture of ‘buying’ voters. “I want our people to know they do not have to be given handouts by any aspirant to influence who they are vote for.”
On what informed her decision to contest, Cherotich says she wants to prove to youth they have the ability to lead and the political seats were not a reserve of anyone.
“Youth should understand they are qualify to vie for any seat. I want to act as inspiration that these are also jobs and opportunities for them to change the narrative and shape of politics in our country.”
In Kisumu, the Women Rep seat for the first time has attracted a 23-year-old Valentine Otieno. Her story effuses courage, perseverance and hope amid profuse challenges faced by orphans.
Valentine lost her father when she was 14 and her mother died three years later. She says she has firsthand understanding of the suffering of mothers and youths.
She seeks to set up a Mama Mboga Market Prosperity Kitty,” a loan facility for mama mbogas.
“This will supplement the dwindling capital for fishmongers of Seme, smallscale traders of Katito and mobile accessories vendors in Kisumu,” she added.
In Kajiado, youthful aspirants are still grappling with cultural misconceptions and financial challenges. However, in the forthcoming elections, two youthful aspirants have emerged to vie for the Senate seat.
Gedion Toimasi, 27, and Political Science student at UoN, said the biggest challenge was being looked down upon because of his age.
“Being a young person, it is not easy to convince some sections, especially the elderly, that one is capable of leading them. The situation is also worsened by the financial constraints that we have compared to other aspirants of advanced age and much wealth,” he said. Reporting by Felix Yegon, Kepher Otieno and Christine Musa